As I sit at my desktop preparing to write this Freestyle Wednesday piece on Chief 187™Chatter, the topic is unmistakably easy for me. I am listening to the drone of my generator, listening to my children in my home on a school day and anticipating my husband’s needs as he works in our basement. We are ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and more than a week later are still without power. Yet, I am still hopeful and grateful.
I am a New Jersey girl born and raised. I left the state for five years to attend college in Virginia and start my life, but returned. I bore and am raising my three children here. I have enormous pride and love for my state. And, in the wake of the greatest natural disaster that has ever befallen my state; I am still in love with it, its people, and my home.
Hurricane Sandy’s complete destruction is of yet unknown to me. Without power, cable, internet, and phones I have yet to witness the scope of devastation, but I can imagine. The Jersey Shore has been battered, beaten, and destroyed, but I have faith it will one day reach glory again.
I live in the northern part of the state, closer to eastern Pennsylvania. We were spared the overwhelming rains of Sandy, but not her debilitating winds. Trees were uprooted like they were planted the day before but were clearly decades if not centuries old. They fell unceremoniously and randomly on power wires throughout the towns. No community was completely spared.
Power is slow to be restored. Gas stations, also without power, have made fuel scarce and our governor has had to create gas rationing.
And through it all, we are strong, resilient, and proud. We are neighborly, compassionate, and caring. We are prayerful, careful, and supportive. We are New Jerseyans.
When power is restored, immediate status updates flood Facebook, the hotspot for information for those with smart phones and internet connections (something I do not have), stating the fact and follow up with offers of hot showers and food for those without.
Neighbors, often strangers due to overloaded work and extracurricular schedules, have reached out to offer helping hands in clearing trees, getting gas tanks filled, sharing generator power, and offering a shoulder to lean or even cry.
As an observer I have been overjoyed to see power trucks from states as far as Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee pour into our state to help us with our electrical problems. I get emotional when the Optimum (cable) trucks with full crews are approached by my husband who offers them anything they need – a restroom, beverage, or even a meal.
I don’t know when “normalcy” will reign again. Only because my good friends have had power and an internet connection have I been able to upload my articles and stay relatively connected to my online world.
My days are filled with cooking, teaching my children who have been out of school since the storm struck, and spending a ton of quality time with my husband. We are experiencing the true essence of being a team once again.
In all honesty, as frustrating, isolating, and annoying the loss of power has been, it’s also been an idyllic time. I have not been a slave to the alarm clock, schedules, or “have-tos”. My family and I are writing our own rules, creating our own routine, and simply enjoying one another.
I do look forward to a return to our “old life” but I am hoping I keep a bit of this freedom that goes with the loss of power. I have a feeling I will always savor the time the lights, power, and internet went our when Hurricane Sandy struck.
I know I will always be proud to be a New Jersey resident.